New York Yankees: If the lockout prevails, will free agents flock to Asia?

chris gitten, yankees

The New York Yankees had sat back and let 26 of the top 50 free agents sign with other teams before the MLB imposed lockout was implemented on December 1st. Now they have to continue to sit out replacing players they dearly need until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be reached if, in fact, such an agreement can come to fruition before the start of the 2022 season.

Some players have chosen the east route to play baseball as a more sure thing, while others hope to revive their careers. With the lack of CBA, several players chose the path to Asia, either Japan or South Korea. For example, the New York Yankees let Chris Gittens, who appeared in 16 games last season, go overseas.

Also, this past weekend, third baseman Rio Ruiz, a veteran of parts of six big-league seasons, went to Asia. Those two will join Yasiel Puig, Freddie Galvis, Gregory Polanco, and ex-Yankee Ivan Nova to go to Asian teams. Japan’s NPB, or the Korean Baseball Organization, are the world’s No. 2 and 3 leagues.

If the CBA impasse lasts into spring training or even postpones or cancels the season, will some of the big names exit to Asia and out of MLB?

“I’m actually not sure that is the case,” an Asian league scout told CBS Sports when asked if players seemed more willing to move to Japan or South Korea. “I’d like it to be, I thought it might be, but it looks a little ‘business as usual’ to me.”

Most Asian teams have money to spend, although some rules restrict how many foreign players they can have on their teams or how many can play in a given game.

Many of the players who have already exited for Asia carry baggage with them. Not quite making it in the majors or have some type of scandal attached to their name. But for some, it is the answer to possibly not playing at all. Galvis, for instance, signed a contract that could pay him up to $6 million over two seasons, which is far more than he could have earned back here on American soil.

After a new CBA is reached, if it can be reached, the Yankees have to act quick to fill the void. If more players elect to play in Korea or Japan, that will further reduce the Yankees’ pool.

Yankees release slugger: Chris Gittens will reportedly play in Japan

chris gitten, yankees

During the 2021 season, when the New York Yankees were struggling to get reliable production from their first basemen, they tried one under-the-radar name to see if he could at least be average offensively. He couldn’t quite achieve that feat, even though he had excellent numbers at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Chris Gittens couldn’t honor his nickname: “Hard Hittin’” slashed just .111/.250/.194 in 16 games and 44 plate appearances, with a home run and a 33 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus), were 100 is considered average production.

Now, the Yankees are, per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, releasing him so he can have the opportunity to get some playing time elsewhere.

Adler reported that “Yankees released 1B Chris Gittens, per their transaction page. My understanding is that Gittens intends to play in Japan.”

He couldn’t produce with the Yankees, but will try to do it in Asia

Gittens, who is 27 years old, was scorching hot in Triple-A, slashing .301/.440/.644 with 14 homers in 184 plate appearances. His wRC+ was an impressive 185. He produces lots of groundballs, but he has the potential to perform in a league like Japan.

Gittens was taken by the Yankees in the 2014 MLB Draft, in the 12th round. In two separate occasions, he has eclipsed the 20-homer barrier in the minor leagues. The Bombers, however, couldn’t give him an extended look.

Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson said, according to NJ Advance Media, that Gittens’ power is “pretty freaking special.”

“When you’re in the company of (Aaron) Judge and (Gary) Sanchez and (Giancarlo) Stanton and (Joey) Gallo — the top five in the world in exit velocity — all of those guys are one of one. It’s impressive. He’s a big leaguer, it’s certainly just a matter of when that happens.”

It looks like “Hard Hittin’ Chris Gittens” will be taking his talents to Japan, where he should receive more of a chance, like he deserves.

New York Yankees: 3 Major takeaways from 2nd loss to the Red Sox

New York Yankees, Chad Green

Last night the New York Yankees lost their second game in a row blowing any chance of taking a series from their rival Boston Red Sox. In the process, they slipped below the Toronto Blue Jays and into fourth place in the AL East, 5 1/2 games out of first place. They are now 3-9 in their last twelve games scoring only 2.4 runs per game.

Jameson Taillon fails to execute

The New York Yankees starter Jameson Taillon didn’t pitch horribly but failed to execute key pitches that gave up runs. Taillon threw 76 pitches, 54 of them strikes while striking out only 3 Red Sox. Last night was Taillon’s third no-decision in his last four starts for the Yankees. In an after-game interview, Taillon said it was not the called pitches, it was his failure to execute them.

Taillon pitched satisfactorily until the sixth inning when he clashed with Rafael Devers. Devers who has always been a problem for Yankee pitching hit a two-run single breaking a tied game. When Taillon left the game after 5.1 innings, he left a runner on base, that runner scored off reliever Jonathan Loaisiga, contributing to Taillon’s final line. Taillon has a 5.09 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 58:16 K/BB across 53 innings this season. Taillon has been the Yankees’ least productive starter as he tries to regain his 2018 form.

Bullpen fails to get the job done

The normally dependable Yankee bullpen imploded last night as Chad Green gave up four runs in only 2/3rd of an inning while striking just one. Two of those runs came from a 2 run home run by Rafael Devers. He took the loss in the game and now has an 0-4 record. Even though he officially took the loss the game was already lost after starter Jameson Taillon allowed three runs in his 5.1 innings of work. After Green was pulled from the game, Wandy Peralta and Brooks Kriske combined for 1.1 scoreless innings.

Chris Gittens added to bolster the lineup

The New York Yankees finally have called up first baseman Chris Gittens. This call-up solves two problems immediately. Gittens, .283/.486/.585 at the Rail Riders this season can take over first base and move DJ LeMahieu back to second base. It also replaces no production from a first baseman to a good hitting performer.

The Yankees have had a hitting problem that doesn’t seem to want to go away. During the last three years since Aaron Boone was hired as manager of the team, they have scored over an average of 5 runs per game. This season they are scoring under 4 runs a game and during the present slide only 2.4 runs per game over the last twelve games. Part of the reason for this is that they haven’t been getting production from left, centerfield, and first base. With the addition of the hard-hitting Gittens, the problem may at least be solved at first base. Last night in his major league debut he went hitless. He struck out once and walked once. With his batting average of .268, he is definitely an upgrade over Mike Ford.

Other hitting problems include the consistency and timeliness of hitting. When the Yankees do hit they fail to bring those runners home. In the last four games, they are 2 for 23 with runners in scoring position. Another problem the hitting coach Marcus Thames must fix is getting the lineup to get the ball up, they have far too many ground balls that lead into double play outs.

 

New York Yankees: Yankees finally call up Chris Gittens

The New York Yankees finally have called up first baseman Chris Gittens. This call-up solves two problems immediately. Gittens, .283/.486/.585 at the Rail Riders this season can take over first base and move DJ LeMahieu back to second base. It also replaces no production from a first baseman to a good hitting performer. The odd man out will be Rougie Odor that has not been hitting.

I thought that bringing Mike Ford instead of Gittens was a mistake from the beginning of the season. Gittens addition does not add a lefty to the lineup, but it does add a bat that can hit and hit for power.

Gittens plays first base; he bats and throws from the right. He is 6′ 4″ and weighs 250 pounds. He was born on  February 4, 1994, in Texas. He attended Grayson County Junior College. The New York Yankees selected him in the 2014 draft on the 12th round. In a Baseball America report, he was said to be a pitching and hitting prospect. He plays excellent defense at first and can fire the ball at 93 mph.

At Tampa of the Gulf Coast League, he started the 2015 season and absolutely dominated the level, batting .363/.452/.645. He hit 8 home runs in 146 plate appearances. Gittens has ascended through the organization rather quickly. Other than some hip cups during the 2018 season at Trenton, he has continued to gain notice by the Yankee’s front office.

In 2019, at 25,  the first baseman broke out and won the Eastern League MVP for the Trenton Thunder. He hit .281/.393/.500 (164 wRC+) and hit 23 homers (.219 ISO). He still struck out a lot (29.1 percent), but it was his power impressed. However, there was no place for Gittens; the Yankees choose Greg Bird and Mike Ford to hold down first base at the Stadium. After spring training in 2020, he didn’t make the team, and with no minor league games, he couldn’t continue to impress.

In the first 18 games of the AAA minor-league Rail Riders, he has turned heads. He has hit 4 doubles and 4 home runs and is batting .281; with amazing patience at the plate, he has over a walk per game. Now Gittens will be able to show off his stuff at Yankee Stadium.

 

Yankees finally call up raking infielder to aid struggling offense

chris gitten, yankees

The New York Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox on Friday evening in an embarrassing performance, as their offense tallied just two runs and blew multiple opportunities to drive in runners in scoring position. Totaling eight hits, they also logged 15 strikeouts, an unacceptable number. Some of the bigger victims on the evening were Gary Sanchez, who struck out all four times, Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor, Brett Gardner, Gio Urshela, and DJ LeMahieu all struck out twice apiece.

It seemed that Red Sox relief arm Hirokazu Sawamura had the Yankees’ number, recording five strikeouts in just 2.0 innings.

HOT NEWS:

With the majority of Yankee bats still struggling to get going, the team has elected to call up Chris Gittens, who is currently featuring in their AAA squad. The first baseman is hitting .283, with four homers and 11 RBIs. Having climbed the ranks in the Yankees’ farm system, this will be his first Major League opportunity, and seeing exponential growth in offensive production should allow him to make a contribution in one way or another.

Defensively, he has played 14 games at first base this year, not allowing an error and recording 95 put-outs over 113 innings. He has shown quality defensive play so far, despite six errors last year over 78 games. The 6’4″, 250-pound infielder will likely give the Yankees an alternative option at 1B, after utilizing DJ LeMahieu at the position in the loss on Friday.

It is clear skipper Aaron Boone does not trust the likes of Mike Ford and would rather LeMahieu stick at second base. Odor isn’t offering enough offensively to make him a cemented starter, so giving Gittens an opportunity is a positive move and one that should be commended as a desperate change is needed.

The Yankees are preparing to take on Boston at 7:15 on Saturday evening, with Jameson Taillon on the board against Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a left-handed pitcher, currently features a 5.64 ERA over 52.2 innings, offering the Yankees a fantastic opportunity to get their offense going and extract a win in the AL East. They are currently 4.5 games back from the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Boston Red Sox have pulled away with a 3.5 game lead over New York.

New York Yankees: The Yankees minor league system is thriving (video)

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

All the attention this week is on the New York Yankees series with the Texas Rangers and their hope to advance to first place in the AL East. Last night’s loss in the first game of the 4 game series did not advance that hope.  The Yankees got off to a slow start this season but have been playing better recently, taking the last seven series, which has seen them rise from the bottom of the AL East to a tie for the third spot. The Yankees’ loss last night was without three key players; hopefully, that will resolve itself sooner than later.

As the minor league system is going into the third week of play, the Yankee affiliates are doing pretty well. In some cases showing that some of the players major league-ready or close to it.  Some stats are pretty inspiring.

The Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders:

The Rail Riders are on a roll; they are 9-3 for first place in the Triple-A northeast. Chris Gittens continues to impress, is major league-ready; unfortunately, the Yankees have no place to put him now that Luke Voit is back. He, in nine games, is hitting .333/.556/.917. He has two doubles and four home runs while walking 11 times, showing his patience at the plate. Four home runs are pretty amazing in just nine games.

New York Yankee prospect Deivi Garcia is staying major league ready if there is an injury, and the Yankees need him. He has pitched 10 innings striking out 16  while allowing just 5 hits and walking two in his first two games of the season. He has not allowed a run and was named the Triple-A East pitcher of the week. In other RR news, Estevan Florial was promoted to Scranton after the Hicks injury. In three games at AA and two at AAA, he is hitting just .095/.174/.190.

Low-A Tampa Yankee Tarpons

The Tarpons to start the season have the same winning record as the Rail Riders; they are 9-3 and 1st place in the Low-A Southeast. The only difference here is that the player’s names are not as recognizable. Standouts are pitcher Nelvin Correa. In four games and across 9.2 innings striking out nine opponents and allowing only 4 hits without allowing a run.

Max Burt, the 24-year-old out of Northeastern University, is playing great this season and may be his time to break out. In eight games, he is hitting .364/.400/.545, with 3 home runs and 3 doubles. He was playing so well that he is no longer with the Tarpons; he has been promoted to AA Somerset Patriots.

Double-A Somerset Patriots

The Somerset Patriots (the old Trenton Thunder) are 7-5 on the season and are tied for first place in the Double-A (Northeast) North.  The Patriots’ next game is in Hartford, CT, with the Hartford Yard Goats (Colorado Rockies affiliate).

The Patriots have some outstanding players, and Ron Marinaccio is one of them as he has quickly become a pitcher to watch, as he’s impressed out of the bullpen early this season. In 4 relief appearances and 7.2 innings pitched, he has struck out 12 while allowing just two hits and no runs. The Patriots’ star hitter is Oswaldo Cabrera. In 8 games, he is hitting .321/.441/with a homer and two double. He is a very patient hitter at the plate; he has walked six times.

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades

The Renegades are the only New York Yankees affiliate that doesn’t have a winning record; they are 6-6, Tied for 2nd place in the High-A East (Northern). That may improve this week as they play the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) that are 4-7.

The standout Renegade is a name many Yankee fans will recognize; Oswald Peraza, he has now hit as many home runs in the last eight games as he had in his minor league career entering the season. He is coming off four straight homers in as many plate appearances. He also leads the league in stolen bases. In eight games, he is hitting .484/.556/1.000, hitting 5 home runs with 2 double baggers and seven stolen bases, and was High-A East player of the week.

Pitcher Ken Waldichuk is starting to make a name for himself. In his first start, he went 3.1 innings striking out 10. He backed that up with a second start when he struck out 7 across four innings. In both starts, he has not allowed a run.

My picks for the best Yankees minor league prospects for the first two weeks are Chris Gittens, Deivi Garcias, and Oswald Peraza.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Who will replace Jay Bruce?

Over the weekend, the New York Yankees‘ first baseman Jay Bruce announced his retirement to take effect after his final game last night. The still relatively young Bruce (34) was obviously emotional in his statement to the fans and the bullpen with his fellow players. Bruce was not in the lineup last night. He first let manager Aaron Boone know about his plans on Friday but announced his retirement Sunday Morning.

“The reason I ultimately chose to do this is because over 13 years of playing pretty much every single day, I set a standard of what I expected out of myself from a performance standpoint,” Bruce said on Sunday afternoon. “I know there are ups and downs and ebbs and flows throughout a season and throughout a career, but ultimately, I just felt like I couldn’t perform at the level that I expected out of myself.”

The New York Yankees issued this official statement:

“Thank you Jay, for your professionalism and leadership in your short time here. We wish you nothing but the best and congrats on an amazing career.” The tweet was followed by a heart.

The bottom line is that although he did have an amazing 14-year career, he did not play well for the Yankees. In a somewhat unfair move, the Yankees put him in the starting lineup as the Yankees’ first baseman after Luke Voit required knee surgery. Bruce was an outfielder by trade, with some experience at first base. As I said, it did not turn out well and led to his decision to retire.

His retirement leaves the Yankees with a question to solve, who do they put at first base until Voit returns in another month or so. They appear ready to leave DJ LeMahieu in the position now that they have Rougned Odor to cover second base. But the Yankees do have other options.

Mike Ford:

Mike Ford did not have an inspiring spring training, but he hit one home run and batted .259 during 11 games. But at the beginning of the regular season, the Yankees ultimately choose Jay Bruce to man first base. That turned out to be a mistake, so when the Yankees signed Odor, they moved DJ LeMahieu to first. Now that Jay has retired, they still have to find a permanent replacement until Luke Voit returns. Ford is an option; he has had his moments with the Yankees, hitting the longest home run in the past two season and a walk-off win. He also has been a Red Sox killer.

Chris Gittens:

My choice to fill the first base void is Chris Gittens. In spring training, he hit 3 no-doubter home runs and batted .316 in 20 games. That alone should have got him the first base job. In 2019 he drove in 77 runs and got 118 hits with 23 homers batting .281 while with the Trenton Thunder. It seems to me this is a no-brainer that manager Aaron Boone should act upon immediately and allow DJ to go back to second base. Rougned Odor is batting .125. I am sure that Gittens can get better run production than that.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees get 3 home runs in a tie with the Tigers

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

Today the New York Yankees traveled a few miles northeast to Lakeland, Florida, to meet up with the Detroit Tigers at Joker Merchant Stadium. The Tiger’s starter was Tarik Skabul, and for the New York Yankees, it was Corey Kluber in his third start of the spring; so far, he had an ERA of 3.00. The game was played under mostly sunny skies, with a game-time temperature of a perfect 72 degrees.

Mike Tauchman led off for the Yankees against Skabul. The T-man couldn’t do better; he had a leadoff home run to center. Luke Voit walked. Clint Frazier followed, who tapped into a force-out, Voit out at second. Frazier was picked off. Dietrich walked. Higashioka struck out to end the half. Yankees 1 Tigers 0. Corey Kluber took the mound, and Grossman walked on five pitches. Grossman advanced on a wild pitch. Mazara struck out swinging. W.Castro singled driving in Grossman. Castro stole second. Cabrera flew out, but Castro reached third. Schoop walked, and H.Castro struck out. Kluber had a rough inning where he didn’t have good command. He threw 30 pitches. Yankees 1 Tigers 1.

At the top of the second, Tyler Wade got an infield single. LaMarre singled Wade to third. Velazquez struck out, but LaMarre stole second. Allen flew out, but Wade scored. Tauchman, who homered in the first singled. With Voit hitting, LaMaree was caught stealing home. Yankees 2 Tigers 1. At the bottom, Ramos flew out to the warning track. Garcia popped out. Hill lined to third, but Dietrich overthrew Voit, lifting him off the plate for a double. Grossman flew out for a quick inning for Kluber. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

At the top of the 3rd, Voit resumed his at-bat and walked. Frazier popped out to second. Both Dietrich and Higashioka popped out as well for the quick Skubal half. Mazara against Kluber walked. W.Castro flew out. Cabrera struck out, Schoop struck out for Klubers 4th strikeout of the game.

Tyler Wade led off the New York Yankee 4th. He singled sharply to left. LaMarre walked, two on no outs. Velazquez called out on strikes, and Wade called out at third. Allen flew out to left to end the half.  Kluber out for the fourth allowed H.Castro single to left. Ramos popped into a double play. Kluber was removed from the game with 68 pitches, replaced by Nick Nelson. Garcia struck out to end the inning. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Tauchman walked on Skubal, who had five walks in the game. Cisnero replaced him. Voit ground to short, Tauchman out as second as Voit reaches. Frazier flew out for the second out. Dietrich walked. Higashioka walked to load the bases with two outs. Wade flew out, leaving 3 Yankees on base. Hill struck out against Nelson. Grossman struck out, and Mazara lined out to end the inning. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Greg Soto struck out LaMarre to start the sixth. Velazquez struck out, and Allen flew out to Rojas, who made a flat-out slide ending the half. Nelson out for his third inning, W.Castro hit a triple to far right. Cabrera walked, Schoop hit into a double play, but W. Castro scored. H.Castro lined out to second. Yankees 2 Tigers 2.

Tauchman leading off the 7th. walked, he was on base all four times. Garcia replaced Soto. His first pitch hit Luke Voit, Florial took his place at first. Voit flew out to far left, and Tauchman went to third. A wild pitch allowed the T-Man to score. Yankees 3 Tigers 2. At the top of the eighth Greg Allen and Chris Gittens hit back to back home runs for the New York Yankee 5-2 lead.

At the bottom of the eighth with Nick Goody on the mound, Reyes and Cameron singled. Short struck out. Erik Haase hit a long home run over the left-field fence driving in three runs to tie the score up at 5 runs apiece. H.Castro walked. Rogers was hit by a pitch. With two on Gracia flew out to close out the eighth inning. Yankees 5 Tigers 5.

In spring training there are no extra innings so if neither team scores in the ninth the game will end in a tie. At the top Rob Brantly ground out. Tyler Wade ground out to short. Ezequiel Duran singled. Velazquez flew out to center ending the Yankee’s ability to break the tie. At the bottom of the ninth, the New York Yankees sent Brooks Kriske to hold down the Tigers. Hill struck out, Reyes walked on four pitches. Cameron batting Reyes stole second. Cameron struck out. Reyes went to third on a wild pitch. Short walked and stole second. Haase lined out ending the game in a 5-5 tie.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Big battles and big decisions for the Yankees

Tomorrow is the first day of spring, and for the New York Yankees, spring training games are waning; there are only eleven games left to play before players and staff head north to Yankee Stadium. The players may be itching to get the regular season going but some are itching more than others. Why? Because some will be cut as the Yankees face crunch time to firm up the 26 man roster. There are still battles for those last spots.

This may be the last games of spring training, but it’s also a time that both the players and the front office is busy as can be. Housing to be arranged and cars to be shipped for the big move north. But for manager Aaron Boone, coaches, and the front office, they still have some big decisions to be made, and they won’t be able to wait until the last moment.

The New York Yankees know pretty much what the opening day lineup will be. They know who their starting pitcher will be, and they know who all the position players will be. But the question of who will fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation is still unanswered. Who will be added to the bullpen is yet to be determined and who will sit beside Brett Gardner and Kyle Higashioka as reserves on the bench are still unknown.

The battle to anchor the pitching rotation:

RHP Domingo Germán (0.00 ERA 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 13 K)
RHP Deivi García (2.25 ERA in 8 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 10 K)
RHP Michael King (4.00 ERA in 9 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 6 K)
RHP Jhoulys Chacín (5.40 ERA in 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 K)

All of these starting pitchers want that last spot in the starting rotation. New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone has said that he will carry 13 pitchers and 13 players at the start of the season. That means with the first four starters pretty well nailed down, one of the above will be the fifth starter. This decision may be the easiest for the Yankee brasse to make because, at this point, it seems to be a no-brainer. Domingo German is the clear leader in this category. It is very likely the Deivi Garcia will start his season in May at Scranton Wilkes/Barre. That being said, it is also as likely that all of these pitchers will spend some time at Yankee Stadium during the season.

The battle to gain a home in the bullpen:

LHP Lucas Luetge (spring stats: 0.00 ERA in 6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 13 K)
RHP Nick Nelson (0.00 ERA in 6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K)
RHP Kyle Barraclough (1.80 ERA in 5 IP, 2 H, 7 BB, 7 K)
RHP Nick Goody (1.93 ERA in 4 2/3 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 3 K)
LHP Tyler Lyons (2.08 ERA in 4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K)

These are the relievers that have a chance to be added to a bullpen that will include: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson, and Darren O’Day. This will be a much more difficult decision to be made by management. All five of these relievers are good in their own way. Actually, I should change the word good for excellent. It seems obvious, with an ERA of zero and 13 strikeouts per nine, that the Yankees will select Lucas Luetge. Beyond that It’s anyone’s guess. At this point, to me, it seems to be very close between Tyler Lyons and Nick Nelson.

Like the starters, Matt Blake and manager Boone will have to watch the innings pitched this season as the staff adjusts to a 162 game season after a short 60 season this past year. All of these pitchers will be used during the season, and some of the relievers like Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, and Clarke Schmidt will be used in various roles. There is still an outside chance that Jonathan Loaisiga could snag that fifth starter spot due to his excellent spring.

The battle to sit on the bench:

This is probably the biggest battle yet to be resolved. Who will sit on the bench? There is no question that Brett Gardner will be the backup outfielder who can play at all outfield positions and Kyle Higashioka, who will be the backup catcher for Gary Sanchez.

Chris Gittens (3 for 8, .375, 1HR, 5 RBIs) first base

Jay Bruce (6 for 23, .261, 2HR, 3 RBIs) first base & outfield

Mike Tauchman (5 for 21, .238, 2HR, 3 RBIs) outfield

Mike Ford (3 for 19, .158, 0HR, 2 RBIs)  first base

Derek Dietrich (2 for 18, .111, 1HR, 3 RBIs) utility

Thairo Estrada (3 for 18, .167, 1RBI) second base

Tyler Wade (3 for 21 .143, 2DBL, 1 RBI) utility

The New York Yankees would like to keep all these players around, but to fill out the 26 man roster, they will only be able to keep two to add to the bench. Mike Tauchman may not be the best player on this list, but he is one of the most versatile, and considering he is out of minor-league options, the Yankees will likely want to keep him around or trade him in the coming days.  With Chris Gittens playing like he is, my guess is Mike Ford will start in the minors again, and Gittens will be Luke Voit’s backup. If Tauchman is traded, Jay Bruce will be the next man up.

The Yankees may have been weeding out these players by creative moves. The Yankees have shown they can have Brett Gardner play in right field. This may not spell well for Tauchman and Bruce. LeMahieu can play all three bases. Gio Urshela had a successful try-out at short, lessening the need for Tyler Wade. At this point, Dietrich and Ford look like they will be on the outside looking in. Sometime within the next six or seven exhibition games, this will likely be all sorted out and the Yankees will announce their 26 man roster for opening day at Yankee Stadium.

Yesterday was the last day off for the Yankees in this spring training. Today the Yankees will host the Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. Ex-Yankee Ivan Nova will start for the Phillies. At the time of this writing, the Yankees have not announced their starter for the 6:35 pm non-televised game.

 

 

New York Yankees: Major takeaways from yesterday’s Yankee win

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees won their first game of the 2021 season yesterday against the Detroit Tigers 5-4. It’s important to understand that these games win or lose, are irrelevant to the season, much should not be made over whether the Yankees win or not. There are two reasons for spring training: building up players for that start of the regular season, and two and possibly more important, is for management and coaches to evaluate pitchers and hitters and decide where they will fit in with the team. Yankee fans want to see the Yankees win, but that is not the point.

Another thing to consider when reporting on any player or pitcher is that you are looking at a tiny sample that may not represent the player’s overall performance. Any writer’s comment at the end of spring training will carry more weight than this early in the training period. I am basically saying that reporting on these early games, other than factual, should be taken with a grain of salt. They are just conversational.

Gerrit Cole:

Gerrit Cole pitched the first inning in yesterday’s game. It didn’t go well. Tiger hitters pretty much had their way with Cole; he allowed three hits and an RBI. He obviously struggled throwing 29 pitches in the half. The pitch count probably accounts for him not pitching a second inning. It should be noted that he was not pitching to his personal pitcher from last year, Kyle Higashioka. He was pitching to Gary Sanchez, as he did in both of the batting practices he threw.

Like it or not, like Sanchez or not, the conversation about who catches Cole is not going to go away. Last season with Higashioka catching, Cole was 3-1 with an ERA of 1.00. With Sanchez catching, Cole was 4-2 with an ERA of 3.91. Those stats are hard to ignore. Cole also had a tremendous record pitching to Robinson Chirinos when with the Astros. Cole often struggled when pitching to Sanchez, and that didn’t change yesterday. Cole had a long talk with Sanchez in the dugout between innings. Cole did not return to pitch a second inning.

Gary Sanchez:

Gary Sanchez remains a  controversial player for the New York Yankees. The once-star for the Yankees hit only .147 last season and continued his subpar catching. But as the season progressed last year, he was eventually replaced as the catcher in several games, including in the postseason. But in the end, the Yankees continued to show faith in the catcher and gave him a contract for the 2021 season.

Other than the catching situation Sanchez has got to show that he can hit and hit for power to remain in the lineup. In two spring training games, the slugger struck out twice, but in his third appearance at the plate, he hit a monster home run the went past the protective netting meant to keep balls from traveling out of the park. The ball ended up on the highway outside the park. That is the power that has kept Sanchez in the game. How he plays during spring training will tell if he continues to be the Yankees’ starting catcher.

Jameson Taillon:

Jameson Taillon pitched his first full inning for the Yankees yesterday since becoming a Yankee. During the offseason, he was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was a fellow pitcher with Gerrit Cole. Yesterday he pitched masterfully in his inning, putting down the Tiger side in one two three fashion using only seven pitches. It’s a small sample; the Yankees will be observing the starter as he comes back from his second Tommy John surgery. So far in spring training, the Yankees are impressed.

Jhoulys Chacin:

Chacin, who may be fighting for a fifth spot in the pitching rotation, didn’t pitch very well for the Yankees yesterday. In one inning of relief, he gave up two runs to Tiger hitters. Garcia walked, and Wilson Ramos hit a long home run off the centerfield netting, and just like that, the Yankees were behind three runs. Goodrum walked, Greene singled with Goodrum moving to third. Rogers struck out, Pinero with two outs, Green stole second on a late throw by Sanchez. Pinero grounded out, ending the inning, but Chacin gave up two runs.

Chris Gittens:

The New York Yankees drafted Chris Gittens with the 362nd overall pick in the 12th round of the 2014 First-Year-Player Draft.  He is the New York Yankees number 46 prospect. But of all Yankee player prospects, he has shown the most power behind the plate. Yesterday he put on a display of that power that will be remembered throughout spring training. He hit a monster Grand Slam for the Yankees that won the game for them. He is a non-roster invitee to spring training. If he continues to show power like he did yesterday, he could find his way onto the Yankees roster.

The New York Yankees will be away from Steinbrenner Field today in their third exhibition game of spring training. They will face off with the  Baltimore Orioles, a short 43-mile bus ride away at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Because of health concerns, the Yankees will only face Florida west coast teams during this spring training.

New York Yankees Recap: Chris Gitten’s Grand Slam powers the Yankees to a win

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. You can follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.